Cold as ICE


Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been a significant talking point since the beginning of President Donald Trump’s campaign. Immigration was a hot topic during the election in 2016, leaving many voters attentive. ICE and its functionality are sure to come into play for voters’ decisions this election, as well. Though ICE has risen to be a significant topic in the political world, it is not an institution solely belonging to Trump’s administration.

ICE was established in 2003 to protect national security and ensure public safety in response to the deadly terrorist attacks of 9/11. Also around that time, the Iraq War started, the use of military force was authorized and a legislation called the Patriot Act was passed to improve the ability of U.S. law enforcement to detect and deter terrorism. 

It’s become apparent that ICE has been working to protect national security and ensure public safety while simultaneously violating human rights. ICE has been doing one of these exceptionally well and, through time, has  worked to do so more effectively. It’s an excellent example of hypocrisy.

ICE, again, recently came under examination when Dawn Wooten, a former nurse, sent a complaint against Georgia’s ICE detention center for the lack of medical care and unsafe practices that influenced the spread of COVID-19, as well as the high rate of hysterectomies being performed. The five women who received hysterectomies seemed to not have abnormal gynecological issues that would require the procedure. Wooten and other nurses were concerned about the women’s ability to consent to the procedure. The women stated that they felt confusion and felt that their bodies were being experimented on. Immigrants are not settling into a sense of safety at the hands of ICE. It is clear that ICE is playing with human rights. 

ICE is evidently flawed; it is letting the atrocities of the past to be continued. There is no reason for an institution such as ICE to pick and choose which people deserve to have their rights protected. ICE detention centers do not represent refuge for those who are seeking asylum. It should not be accepted that people are mistreated and taken advantage of due to their immigrant and migrant status.  

 Trump’s administration having a “zero tolerance” policy at the southern border led to thousands of children being separated and displaced from their families. This policy was prompted in hopes of “deterring” more people from coming to the United States by demonstrating the possibility of family separation. This policy has left lasting damage, with nonprofits in Central America continuing to get a hold of children and families. 

ICE has been using the pandemic to further their restrictive desires. During family separations, government officials’ goals have been to kick children out of the United States immediately and to hold families in ICE detention centers unsafely during the pandemic. Over thousands of children have been expelled immediately due to “public health reasons.”  Reports reveal that the majority of children have not contracted COVID-19. 

In 2017, Central American migrants detained in Adelanto, California, went on a hunger strike to protest against discrimination and unethical care. Advocates for immigrants state that the allegations from the 2017 incident reflect a pattern of current incidents in Adelanto. 

This year in the Adelanto facility, advocates and organizations filed complaints alleging that ICE was using a COVID-19 disinfectant spray on the facility over 50 times a day. Poor ventilation caused detainees to be exposed to toxic chemicals. 

ICE and its functionality need to be examined, regardless of political party and perspective. Believing people should be treated humanely and with decency should not be reserved for a specific political stance. There needs to be more attention on the incidents that are happening within the United States’ immigration system. These incidents should not be discussed in the past tense — they are a current problem that continuously sparks outrage. The United States, a nation of immigrants, should have its discussions on immigration and migration challenged. 

Advocates and nonprofits are bringing these incidents to light, while no significant government changes have been made to combat these incidents. With the 2020 election, it is important to be attentive and vote for those who are competent enough to make needed changes.